ST. PAULS — Dogs and cats that lost their caretakers and homes to Hurricane Matthew are waiting at the Robeson County Animal Shelter to be reunited with their families — but they are safe and being taken care of in the interim, according to shelter officials.
About 100 animals were rescued from their homes after their owners had to flee rising waters in a hurry, and county officials are waiting patiently until they can be picked up at the pound, which is located at 255 Landfill Road in St. Pauls.
For Jason Allison, manager of the Robeson County Animal Shelter and supervisor of Animal Control, few things are more enjoyable than witnessing a reunion.
“It doesn’t get any better than when someone has an animal that they don’t know where it’s at,” Allison said. “Then they come to the shelter. They’re looking around. They’re anxious, not knowing if the animal is here. But when their eyes meet and the animal sees the owner and the owner sees the animal, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
As of Wednesday there had been 84 dogs and 16 cats taken to the pound as part of the flood rescues, Allison said. Through Facebook, the pound has posted animals’ pictures. The pound’s Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/RobesonCountyAnimalShelter/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf.
It is open from noon to 5 p.m. weekdays, and it can be reached by calling 910-865-2200,
More than 60 animals have already been reunited with their owners, and there are more happy reunions are ahead. The staff is giving daily updates on the number of animals that are being reunited with their families.
“These animals will be here for several weeks. Our main concern is reconnecting these animals with their owners. We want to get them back home or wherever the next home will be,” Allison said.
They are taking steps to make sure no one claims an animal that is not their own.
“We understand that people may have lost their IDs and anything that might associate them with the dog,” Allison said.
The reaction of a happy pet seeing its owner after a long separation is often enough evidence of an existing bond.
“We watch for the reaction of the dog,” he said.
Cell phone photos are also helpful.
“We’re trying to do it the best way we possibly can,” Allison said.
Donations are needed, Allison said, to help accommodate the unexpected guests. The pound needs bedding for cats and puppies such as newspapers.
Most of the animals were rescued by American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals staff and county Animal Control officers. Lacie Davis is among 12 ASPCA team members who went out in the field following Matthew’s Oct. 8 visit to look for stranded animals.
“We were requested by the Department of Agriculture to come and assist Robeson County for field rescue and shelter support,” Davis said. “We’re just making sure these guys here have the support they need.”
It is a lot of work but rewarding.
“As soon as they get that family member back, everything else just goes away,” Davis said. “When you talk to them, they say, ‘I’ve got my baby back, my family back and we can rebuild.’ That’s why we do what we do.”